This is page numbers 3619 – 3642 of the Hansard for the 17th Assembly, 5th Session. The original version can be accessed on the Legislative Assembly's website or by contacting the Legislative Assembly Library. The word of the day was questions.


The House met at 1:31 p.m.



The Deputy Speaker Jane Groenewegen

Good afternoon, colleagues.

Before we begin today, I’d like to draw your attention to the Canadian flags on your desks. In 1996, February 15th was declared National Flag

Day of Canada to mark the introduction of Canada’s national flag.

It was on February 15, 1965, that the first flag with its distinctive red and white maple leaf design flew proudly on Parliament Hill in our nation’s capital. Since then the flag has become an iconic symbol of Canada, known the world over and associated with the Canadian ideals of democracy, freedom and respect.

Although we don’t see maple trees in this part of the country, we proudly fly our Canadian flags across the Northwest Territories as a symbol of our unity with our fellow Canadians across this country, our Olympians representing Canada in Sochi, Russia, and proud Canadians across the world.

Members, please join me in celebration of National Flag Day of Canada.

Minister Miltenberger.

Point Of Order

Michael Miltenberger Thebacha

Thank you, Madam Speaker. I rise on a point of order today under clause 23(m) which states, “In debate, a Member will be called to order by the Speaker if the Member introduces any matter in debate that offends the practices and precedents of this Assembly.”

I’ve waited until today, Madam Speaker, to look at Hansard to make sure of the remarks. Yesterday during question period and I quote from page 18 of the unedited Hansard from Wednesday, February 12, 2014, “We’ve heard that deputy ministers will move money that is intended for human resources over to projects because they want to fulfil their mandate within their department. My view is they are actually breaking direction laid out by the

Legislature. In essence, it’s tantamount, in my view, of breaking the law.”

On the same page, Mr. Hawkins also said, “I’d like to ask what the Finance Minister is going to do if we know that deputy ministers are signing off human resources money that is designated, protected and passed in this Legislature by a duly elected body when they go behind the scenes and re-appropriate the money for their pet projects.”

Madam Speaker, Mr. Hawkins has clearly accused deputy ministers of deliberate criminal behaviour and, in doing so, I believe violates the established practices and rules of this Assembly. There have been explicit rulings on this matter in the past.

On March 25, 1995, in a landmark ruling, the Honourable Sam Gargan ruled, “The respect in which Members hold this institution is clearly evident. In order to uphold and enhance this respect, I will not permit comments, whether written or spoken, in this Legislative Assembly that have the tendency to question the personal integrity of others in this House or impute motives to those unable to respond or which have had the impact of adversely reflecting on those persons outside the Legislature.”

More recently, on February 15, 2007, Honourable Paul Delorey ruled, “It is both the rule of this Assembly and a common courtesy to not make reference to persons who are not Members of this House and do not enjoy parliamentary immunity. This includes reference to Members of the public specifically by name or in such a way that there can be no mistake as to the identity of the individual involved. The parliamentary immunity that we all enjoy within this Chamber comes with certain responsibilities. I would ask that Members respect the rights of those who do not have direct voice in this Chamber both in formal session and in Committee of the Whole.”

On that basis, Madam Speaker, I respectfully request that Mr. Hawkins be directed to withdraw his remarks and apologize to the House. Thank you.

Point Of Order

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Thank you, Minister Miltenberger. I will allow some debate on Mr. Miltenberger’s point of order. Anyone who wishes to is allowed to speak once. Is there anybody who would like to speak to Minister Miltenberger’s point

of order? Member for Yellowknife Centre, Mr. Hawkins.

Point Of Order

Robert Hawkins Yellowknife Centre

Thank you, Madam Speaker. Before us here today, we have an interesting situation which reminds me of an almost identical circumstance that happened on February 16, 2006, to be exact. I raised a point of order and it is described as such: I felt a Member of the Assembly used unparliamentary language to insult me. However, it’s important to note that this was not brought up in a timely way. I quote Speaker Delorey of the day and his quote is as such, when he ruled that it wasn’t a point of order: “I’m going to rule the point of order should have been brought up at the time, so I’m going to rule that you do not have a point of order based on that it should have been brought up at the time the comments were made.”

Madam Speaker, I didn’t raise my point of order of my concern of the language used against me in a timely way. I did it later in the day. Then Speaker Delorey’s ruling, which I accepted, is also precedence, which reminds us, simply stated, that a breach must be brought up in a timely way at its first opportunity. If it isn’t, then the details of the specific grievance, in the end, matter little.

Proper process is the key, Madam Speaker, and I certainly agree. Minister Miltenberger, in his view, is telling the House here today that this is his first opportunity to raise this concern, which in essence, in my view, is wrong. I draw the attention of the Assembly towards the simple fact that these words, if they cause such grievance, why he didn’t call a point of order in a timely way at the first opportunity. Why do I say that, Madam Speaker? Because which yesterday was, as a matter of supporting fact, I call everyone’s attention to yesterday’s Hansard. Minister Miltenberger expressed his grievance with my comments and rebuts them repeatedly during several responses to my questions. Not once, Madam Speaker, but five times. Surely if it was such an offence yesterday, a skilled, if not an elder parliamentarian, as he respectfully is, would have made note of the grievance and called a point of order in a respectable time, as highlighted by Speaker Delorey’s earlier ruling.

This reaffirms that this was drawn to his attention at that particular time. It furthermore says, as the rules state, he should have risen to a point of order to address them at that time, but he didn’t.

To tie it a little tighter, Madam Speaker, under Section 319 of Beauchesne’s, “Any Member is entitled, if not bound, to bring to the Speaker’s immediate notice of any instance of breach of order. The Speaker’s attention must be directed to a breach of order at the proper moment, namely the moment it occurred.”

If we respectfully boil this issue down to what it is, Minister Miltenberger didn’t use the words I used to

express my feelings on how I feel, which I stressed “in my view.” These are my feelings, in my view, and in my view, they are still my feelings, how I feel. I’m not going to be in any position, Madam Speaker, here to judge Minister Miltenberger’s thoughts or suggestions, perhaps, to the situation. Only he can clarify and he’s welcome to do so.

I’m going to quote two small passages from Beauchesne’s to finish up. Under Section 24, “Parliamentary privilege is a sum of particular rights enjoyed by each House collectively, and its Members, and its Members of the House individually without which could not discharge their functions which exceed those processes by any bodies or individuals. The privileges of Parliament are rights which are absolutely necessary for the due execution of the powers.”

Finally another quote, Madam Speaker, from Section 75, “The privilege of freedom of speech is both the least questioned and the most fundamental rights of a Member of Parliament on the floor of the House and in committee.” Of course, we all know that expands to the Legislature here.

Finally, I say this, Madam Speaker, in closing, we could clear all of these comments up if the government would simply offer sanction and confirm the witness statements made at the in camera meeting held on February 11th to which I

cannot specifically refer to because they were made in camera and that would be a breach of the House’s rules. So, we could ask Minister Miltenberger if he would authorize that and we can let the public be the final judge of public accountability on this measure and allow the court of public opinion to make their ruling in their view. Thank you.

Point Of Order

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Thank you, Mr. Hawkins. Would anyone else like to speak to the point of order? Premier McLeod.

Point Of Order

Bob McLeod Yellowknife South

Thank you, Madam Speaker. I think the Member has acknowledged the breach and now he’s trying to use process to not withdraw his remarks.

In this House, the process has always been you raise it at the first opportunity and almost every instance that I can recall, the 17th Assembly, the

16th Assembly, invariably the Member waits until

the next morning so they have a chance to review Hansard. There’s no process for trying to find out how a Member feels when he’s making the remarks, but it’s very clear that if people outside this House can’t speak to protect themselves and it’s not normal process for them to do so, I think that the Member should withdraw his remarks because it’s inappropriate use in this House. Thank you, Madam Speaker.

Point Of Order

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Thank you, Premier McLeod. Any further comment or debate to the point of order? If not, I will take the point of order and the comments that have been made subsequently under advisement and withhold any ruling on that until a future date. Thank you.

Back to orders of the day, we have item 2, Ministers’ statements. The honourable Minister of Industry, Tourism and Investment, Mr. Ramsay.

Minister's Statement 22-17(5): Upcoming Improvements To NWT Parks’ Beaches
Ministers’ Statements

Kam Lake

David Ramsay Minister of Industry, Tourism and Investment

Thank you, Madam Speaker. Thousands of our residents and visitors enjoy the parks and campgrounds across the territory. In particular, the beaches located within the territorial parks contribute enormously to the quality of life for many families on hot summer days.

The 2014 parks season formally opens on May 15th and the Department of Industry, Tourism and Investment is making important changes to beaches in Fred Henne Territorial Park and Hay River Territorial Park that I want to share with you. These changes will help to ensure everyone enjoys the beaches in a fun, safe way.

This past summer the department contracted the Lifesaving Society of Alberta and the NWT to perform aquatic safety audits on the unsupervised waterfront beachesat both territorial parks. The Lifesaving Society is a charitable organization working to prevent drowning and water-related injury. The purpose of these audits was to analyze and provide recommendations to maximize the safety of beach users.

The Lifesaving Society has made a number of recommendations they have told us will make the beaches safer. ITI is putting all of these recommendations in place that will move the beaches up in the level of safety. They include easy-to-read signage alerting parents, guardians and other beachgoers about beach rules and hazards. Providing emergency equipment such as a reaching pole and throwing assist was also a direct safety recommendation. We will ensure those are available, and we will post emergency contact numbers.

Madam Speaker, a main focus of the recommendations is on public education. We will be engaging with our partners in the Department of Education, Culture and Employment, Transportation, and Health and Social Services to plan a territory-wide water and beach safety campaign, through the Injury Prevention Working

Group, to help ensure beachgoers are prepared to use and enjoy their beaches safely.

The Lifesaving Society has repeatedly stressed the importance of direct and constant supervision for children at the beachfront and in the water. We are making public awareness a major focus of this safety campaign.

In addition, the department is contracting the Lifesaving Society to deliver basic training in basic waterfront and local emergency procedures. This will be provided to park staff at Fred Henne and Hay River territorial parks. In the event of an emergency, parks staff could provide assistance until fire or ambulance crews arrive on scene. Programs and training can be customized to suit the waterfront and staff comfort level.

These plans are in addition to the lifejacket loaner station that was installed at the Fred Henne beach last summer, and we will install another at the Hay River beach during the 2014 parks season.

Madam Speaker, in addition to these safety audits, we also contracted the Lifesaving Society to do a study on what would be required to put lifeguards on Fred Henne beach. We expect to receive the report very soon and I look forward to reading it and sharing this information.

Throughout this process, the department has encouraged feedback and comments from NWT residents, and I want to thank people who have taken the time to comment and share their concerns and suggestions. We want to hear their feedback on these safety measures and to ask questions about these recommendations.

Our on-line survey about beach safety at Fred Henne has been available for a few weeks now and we have already had over 300 responses. I would encourage people to visit the ITI website to complete this survey and give us your feedback as it will be closing at the end of this week.

In addition, we are holding a facilitated public forum in Yellowknife tonight at the Yellowknife Ski Club at 6:00 p.m. We want to talk to people about the Lifesaving Society’s safety recommendations, current safety issues at the beach, and potential ideas and solutions to addressing these issues. We will work in small groups to ensure all ideas are taken into account.

Another forum is scheduled in Hay River in early March. We will be able to confirm the date with you shortly.

Madam Speaker, safety at the beach is everyone’s responsibility. By putting these safety measures in place as recommended by the Lifesaving Society, we hope even more residents – especially families – will come and experience the natural, spectacular beach facilities we have right here in our backyard. Thank you, Madam Speaker.

Minister's Statement 22-17(5): Upcoming Improvements To NWT Parks’ Beaches
Ministers’ Statements

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Thank you, Mr. Ramsay. The honourable Minister of Transportation, Mr. Beaulieu.

Minister's Statement 23-17(5): Highway No. 4 – Ingraham Trail Realignment
Ministers’ Statements

Tu Nedhe

Tom Beaulieu Minister of Transportation

Mahsi cho, Madam Speaker. [English translation not provided.]

Madam Speaker, the new Highway No. 4 realignment opened to traffic on January 31st .

Residents now bypass the remediation work underway at the former Giant Mine site and travel on a safer highway with better turns and sight lines. It is an important infrastructure investment toward ensuring responsible stewardship and providing jobs and business opportunities to dozens of Northerners.

This work started last summer with the construction of a new entrance. More than 250,000 cubic meters of rock were moved to use as sub-base and base materials for the road. The department thanks residents and users of the nearby Fred Henne Territorial Park for their cooperation during the necessary drilling, blasting and crushing operations.

A temporary lighting system is in place at the Highway No. 3 intersection. Later, a permanent system will be installed this summer when we upgrade the Ingraham Trail between the Vee Lake access road and the Yellowknife River and finish applying chipseal.

Madam Speaker, administrative, engineering and construction jobs for this project have largely been filled by our very own Northerners. As of the end of November 2013, the bypass project had created 8,677 person days of employment for northern and local workers. The contractor, Det’on Cho Corporation, is wholly owned by the Yellowknives Dene First Nation. Several local companies were subcontracted to complete the design and build the project successfully, with an overall average of nearly 86 percent local and northern employment. Madam Speaker, it is good to see the opportunities for skill building and success through this project.

Madam Speaker, the new alignment means that residents are able to enjoy a new view of the territory’s natural surroundings. The Department of Transportation has been working closely with the Department of Industry, Tourism, and Investment to modify the Prospector’s Trail to include a new pullout, provide access to a new mining heritage location, and create a new lake trail loop so residents can stop to appreciate the land.

Madam Speaker, I am confident that the bypass project will contribute to the safety and enjoyment of residents for many years to come. Mahsi cho, Madam Speaker.

Minister's Statement 23-17(5): Highway No. 4 – Ingraham Trail Realignment
Ministers’ Statements

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Thank you, Minister Beaulieu. The honourable Minister responsible for the Northwest Territories Power Corporation, Mr. Miltenberger.

Minister's Statement 24-17(5): Improved Communications During Power Outages
Ministers’ Statements

Michael Miltenberger Thebacha

Madam Speaker, during December's power outage in the city of Yellowknife, it became apparent that communications from the Northwest Territories Power Corporation did not meet its customers’ expectations or its own standards. It is our goal to keep power outages to a minimum. The corporation has taken

steps necessary to improve

communication during both planned and unplanned power outages in the territory and will continue to do so.

This incident made it clear that we needed a more coordinated,

timely and consistent approach to

communicating power outages. We immediately updated our communications protocol in response to concerns from our customers, and our new manager of communications will manage its implementation. The improved protocol sets new thresholds for the declaration of a Northwest Territories Power Corporation emergency as well as timelines and methods of communications that may include web notices, social media, radio, or even going door to door.

This protocol also sets the foundation for strengthening our relationship with our distribution partner, Northland Utilities Limited.

We will keep communications open before, during and after power outages, and wherever possible, we will coordinate our outage communications plans. This will give NTPC a more active role in communicating during outages in Yellowknife whenever the outage is the Power Corporation’s responsibility. There will still be situations where an outage is related to Northland Utilities’ infrastructure.

The Internet plays a major role in providing information to the public, and in late January NTPC launched a new customer-focused website that includes all pertinent information about outages such as who is affected; the cause, if known; and an estimate of when power will be restored. We will also be posting updates on social media before the end of next month.

Our ultimate goal is to avoid power outages altogether. NTPC is researching the possibility of investing in a large battery at the Jackfish plant that would provide a 15-minute window to bring additional power generation on-line without the customer losing power. This could cut the Yellowknife outage rate in half, but it would be a

significant investment and we need to do due diligence before making that decision.

In the meantime, NTPC continues to improve its overall communications to meet the ever-growing and changing needs of its customers. Along with power outage information, conservation information and being able to apply for NTPC jobs, the new website will soon provide the option for customers to pay their power bills on-line as well. Thank you, Madam Speaker.

Minister's Statement 24-17(5): Improved Communications During Power Outages
Ministers’ Statements

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Thank you, Minister Miltenberger. Item 3, Members’ statements. Member for Mackenzie Delta, Mr. Blake.